Sound, image and nation: <i>Words for Battle</i> and <i>Listen to Britain</i>

Keith Beattie

in Humphrey Jennings

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780719078552
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781701836 | DOI:
Sound, image and nation: Words for Battle and Listen to Britain

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The connection between national identity and the experience of war forces a question relevant to all home-front accounts of World War II: how to adequately portray a nation at war? That is the question which centrally motivated Humphrey Jennings' films Words for Battle (1941) and Listen to Britain (1942). This chapter explains how, in addressing this question, Jennings constructed representations that departed radically from extant practices characteristic of the nonfictional forms of newsreels. It discusses the way Jennings utilised the elements such as sound, image and nation in those films. In Words for Battle, Jennings uses extracts from literature and other texts as the basis of a commentary that cues images which expand the meanings and metaphorical connotations inherent in the texts. In Listen to Britain, the commentary is replaced by the masterful juxtaposition of sounds and images as the vehicle for narrative.

Keywords: sound; image; nation; Words for Battle; Listen to Britain

Chapter.  14761 words. 

Subjects: Film

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